Posts Tagged ‘supernatural’

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Eeek…The Answer to Where I’d Go During a Zombie Apocalypse(and Other Little Horrors)

Traci Kenworth


Okay, so me and the ladies we’re talking a bit about what we’d do if zombies suddenly occupied the streets. For me, living out in Amish country, I’d be a little late to the news. And I couldn’t rely on the absence of anything on the TV stations as the cable goes out here when the wind blows. I don’t listen to the radio except while in my car, so hopefully that would be the case. I don’t have access to an underground shelter or a refuge of weapons to maim and decapitate the undead ala Zombieland. The best I could do is run.

I always figured if Carrie Ryan’s world (The Forest of the Hands and Teeth) came to pass, I’d be safer out here in the country. But alas, I’m informed I’d be on their to-do meal list as they’d all be heading from the cities straight toward us. What’s a single mother to do? The first place I’d go, of course, is the school but then, their parking lots would probably be infested and I’d have to do some quick thinking (picture lots of screaming and running) to get my kids and me out of there. Oh, if only we lived nearby Sunnydale, California’s sewers—Uh, on second thought, that’d place me on another menu.

Having maneuvered my way past the stragglers, I’d have to find my family next. Which would mean, heading toward the more populated areas, right into zombie heartland. Eek. Can anyone say baseball bat? It’d be my trusty ally. Well, that and my car. Pray it doesn’t give out or become mass-attacked by all those bodies. No, it’s not looking good for me. And the last thing I need is to be one of those gooey, icky, scraggle-haired fiends out for brains, or flesh, or whatever the heck they eat nowadays.

I have enough of a hard time fitting in now, with my writerly ways. Lol.

Can you imagine with my zero fashion sense nowadays, how quickly I’d fall short of the pack?

No, definitely don’t want to end up a zombie.

Or one of the living dead.

I think I’ll stick with the lot the good Lord gave me and stay out of forests with any kind of hands and teeth—

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Choosing the Genre in Which to Write

Traci Kenworth


I’m going to divert from “How to Breathe Life into Your Characters” this week to discuss what genre you should think of putting your book in. There’s so many to choose from, and different shades of each. You have your Science Fiction-Fantasy that breaks up into “pure” strains of either Science Fiction or Fantasy. You have your Horror, Thrillers, Romance, and so on. So how do you decide?

Just as you had to figure out what character to begin with, this is your time to discover just “who” it is you’re writing to. The gentle reader, of course. But what age group? Yes, you have to break it down. There are no books from 5-100. So that means, you must choose between  pre-school, middle-grade, teen, and adult readers. All fun to write for, but only one selection can be pursued.

If you tried to write the 5-100, you wouldn’t be able to place the book. The agent wouldn’t know where to market it as well. So don’t be stubborn: let your characters speak. What voice do they use? Young or old? How youthful? I tried writing adult books(and who knows, someday maybe I will give it another shot), but my teenage characters keep reeling me in for their stories to be told. Not that I mind. They have some fascinating tales to tell.

For me, I remember not having much of a selection to read from in the YA market. Nowadays there are so many diverse slots for the books, it’s hard to know just where to go. That’s when you have to let the story point the direction. Is it paranormal? Chick-lit? Dystopian? Contemporary? On and on. I tend to write in the YA Supernatural Horror area. I have read a LOT of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.N. Williamson, Ray Bradbury etc. That’s where the horror background comes in. It’s funny, I can’t take the hard-core horror movies or TV shows, but I can read them, and write them. The supernatural is just is part of the way I look at things. Add to that my young adult characters and I know what genre I’m supposed to write in.

I tried comedy, contemporary, the funny and light, nothing fit my voice until I decided to stop fighting it and realize “dark, haunting tales,” are just a part of me. Growing up, the Apocalypse aspect of things always waited just out of reach. I think we’ve come back to those times, those fears. So I write about them, hoping to dispel some anxiety of the reader. What would be the worst that could happen? Could we stop it? What if we couldn’t? All this goes into the material.

Why young adults(ages 13-18), you ask? Because I believe it’s one of the best genres out there. And not only the market ability. I believe young minds are on the cusp of opening to a whole new world of possibilities, that they want stories that challenge them, give them hope, make them dare to take that leap. I don’t write these stories to make them fear life. I want them to embrace it, and live every moment to the fullest.

So decide which shelf it is that you want to pull your book down from. Each genre has it rewards. It’s up to you to decide what means the most to you. Perhaps try experimenting with the different ones, and let that settle your mind on where to write. If you love seeing the hero and heroine explore their relationship, and want to focus on them, choose romance. Love fantastical worlds ala The Hobbit? Fantasy’s your option. Spaceships and star destroyers? Science Fiction. Monsters and good defeating evil? Horror. Or blend them. Not all, of course, but a good Fantasy-Horror book is just waiting to be written.

And remember to break them off into age brackets. Your reader will thank you for choosing to express yourself in a genre you’ll most likely come to love. All that’s left then, is to settle down, open the pages, and begin the story.

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  Photo credit jppi from morguefile.

The Gaming Hall

Traci Kenworth


I wasn’t supposed to be in here, to see what went on, but hey, when your sixteen rules are meant to be broken. Especially when it may attract attention from parents who act like you don’t exist anymore since the divorce. Not that I wanted them crushing my world further than it was, but I’d heard things about this place. Things I hoped were true.

“What’s your name?” the woman in charge of the dice asked.

“Madeline Grace Hill,” I squeaked.

“Do you prefer Maddy?”

I nodded.

“Well, this table you’re sitting at is special but I can see right away that you need this more than most.”

I leaned forward. “Can it really help me? Get the two of them together again? To fix everything?”

She smiled. “I can promise, if the dice rolls right, they’ll never be apart again.”

I took the dice in hand. They felt cold, slimy to the touch. I shivered in despite of the sweltering heat outside and in the room. The background around us seemed to fade, the noise of the crowd drowned out. There was only the two of us—and a wish.

“Choose your bet,” she said.


“Lucky sevens. Let’s roll.”

I wiggled the pieces in my hand and then let them fly forth.

The dice tipped and landed on—seven.

My hand went to my throat.

“A winner in the house,” the woman called. She glanced at me and her smile appeared a bit—toothy. And not the crooked kind of way, but gappy like a creature in a horror flick. “Go home, Maddy.”

I stood then paused. “But how will I know it worked?”

She tapped the dice. “The magic is in the dice.”

I hurried home through twisted, populated streets. Caught the subway and felt the splash as we went under the river above. I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other as I went to the door. A blood-curdling scream unlocked my hesitancy.

Inside, I found them.

Hooked together like Siamese twins.

On the sofa, the woman from the table stood. “You see, now they’ll have to get along.”

I stared in horror as each reached for a knife.

The woman shrugged. “Or maybe not.” She stepped toward me. “But, in any case, there’s a price to be paid for the wish.” She licked her needle-like teeth.

The End




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How to Breathe Life into Your Characters

Part 1: What is in a Name?

Traci Kenworth


How do you go about naming your characters? Do you just close your eyes, dip

your finger onto the page, and choose that one? Or do you meticulously search for one? In any case, the one you end up is going to say a lot about your character. It’s instantly going to give us an image of who he/she is. The type of profession we see them in. Family person or single? And more come to mind.

Take Harry for instance. If we look into the meanings of baby names it means, “Army Ruler.” But when I think of the name Harry, I don’t see that. I see an average Joe, just trying to get along. A family man who brings home the bread. Solid. Dependable. Someone who makes a good Grandpa or friend. Harry’s got a lot going for him, if you want his type of character in your story. But if you want, say a British character, or a villain, his name wouldn’t do at all.

All right, let’s try: Caydan. His name means, “Fighter.” And he sounds like a hero, tough as nails, someone who will go the extra mile. Someone devoted, tough when called for, and a popular guy. Friends growing out of his ears and the like. Oh, and his name is American. So that leaves out a foreign tribute. He definitely makes Harry come across as a bit boring, a bit set in his way. Caydan promises danger, romance, intrigue.

Gabriel means, “God is my strength.” This name evokes heavenly references, of course, but it was one of the most popular old-fashioned baby names. To me, a Gabriel sounds like he would be Lord of the castle, a gentleman of means. He also sounds a bit edgy, on the outskirts of what society might find as the norm. Compared to Caydan and Harry, Gabriel is unique. He could be the hero or the villain of the piece. He could even be a “she.”

Which brings us to the heroine names. Let’s start with: Abedabun is Cheyenne for Sight of the Day. Her name could encompass many different character traits. She is the maiden that saves the village, a Present-Day champion of Native American values. We have loads of possibilities with this one. She can be anything and everyone. A secret agent perhaps? A mother defending her children? A heroine who has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit?

Whereas Abigail is stoic, someone certain in the path they choose. She is old-fashioned, perhaps a bit wealthy, upper-crust. One doesn’t see Abigail fighting off alligators, running from terrorists, or blazing a path of glory. But she could. Twisting the fate/name of a character broadens their horizons and ours. It calls for us to stretch as writers. And that alone could make planting the seed of her name worth it.

Queeny. Wife. Grandmother. Someone trying to break out of the mold. She wishes for so much more out of life than what has befallen her. She strives to make a better live for her children even in the face of danger. She is courageous, a bit rebellious, freedom-loving. You could do so many fascinating things with this character. She has no boundaries, no limits.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Picking names that resonate with our ideas of the character? We can take Harry and Abigail together and make them uproot from our perceptions. We can make them heroes or villains, a force to be reckoned with, or a prop for laughs. They can be the loyal friends of our hero/heroine, or monsters waiting to be noticed. The truth is, any name can become unique because it’s how we see it, what our imagination pulls forth. So the next time you need a name for a character, stroll through the possibilities of baby names, their meanings, their origination, hidden perks that can bring them to life.

And paint that picture of them. Let them soar into creation, designed to be all that they can be, with just a whisper of a name. That’s the first test of breathing life into your characters…


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Writer At Work

Traci Kenworth


So what do our days really look like? Where do they take us?

Well, for me, it begins after I get the kids off to school. About 7 a.m. if not sooner, I try

to be at my computer. I do the email and boards thing first then settle into whatever project I’m working on at the moment. Most weekend mornings, I try and write for the blogs I’m part of: Totally4YA, the YAFF Muse blog, and my own WordPress one. Once I knock these out of the way, I get down to business with writing.

Now, admittedly, all that “writing” time is not always spent doing so. Sometimes it’s research time. I’ve recently researched ghouls, Native American prophecies, skin-walkers, and Genetic Engineering. Research can take hours or days depending on what you’re looking for. Fascinating things catch your eyes, lead you off on a merry chase to discover more about the subject.

Those mentioned above are in reference to a horror story I’ve been working on initialed, SH. I wanted my creatures to be something different than traditional vampires, werewolves or zombies. So I’ve begun to blend, blend, blend the myth with new twists. I love re-working legends. You can take a creature’s fear of the sunlight and make it into so much more. How they came into being can be twisted to suit your purposes.

I’d say 50% of writing time is done researching for me, that’s how much I want what I’m doing to make sense, explore the impossible. The other half is meant to pull the research, characters, plotline etc. together. It’s hard to explain the “magic” that happens to a non-writer. You simply sit at the keyboard or with a pad and a pencil/pen and “listen” to the characters tell their stories. It doesn’t always happen right away. There are days when you fight to get a sentence out of them, and others when the flow can’t be stopped. But as you progress, you realize that you’ve really got something here: a story others might be interested to read/hear.

And so you keep at it, fighting, pushing, and sometimes shoving toward that ending. Is it difficult? Yes and no. But the joy of the finished product can’t be compared. A lot of people want to write a book someday but the truth is it’s harder than it looks and can take years of practice before you even get noticed. There are no short-cuts, no secret formulas. It’s mostly sit in the chair and work to apply what you’ve learned to what you still are learning. It never becomes stagnant.

A writer’s work like housework is never done. It keeps building into searching for an agent, rewrites, more rewrites, hoping to catch the eye of the elusive editor, rewriting again, and even after the books sees print there’s promotion to be concerned with. In today’s market, the reality is, you have to get out there and run the bases to earn your readers. And once you have them, don’t ever take them for granted. They support us to do what we love to do.

It all begins with that first page and carries on to the last. And then, even before you’re done with one story, you must begin the next. You never want to come out of the gate betting on just one horse. At the moment, while I’m re-writing SH, I’ve got Walking in the background, calling out for its rewrites. And then there’s a new story clamoring for my attention. Like I said, the Muse never sleeps. It may get rusty from time to time but it merely needs recharged. Watching a movie, reading a book, observing life can jog it.

Then the challenge begins again. Can I do it? Will it even see light of day? Sometimes it’s frustrating. The road to publication is paved with rejections but don’t lose heart. You came into this business to tell stories, to share them with others, if you never reach bestsellerdom, that’s okay. You did what was in your heart, touched lives out there, all in all, you did your job. And that’s all anyone can ask. Good luck with your writing.

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1. Which hour was most daunting for you? 13
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Suzanne Collin’s Mockingjay
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? More mini-challenges perhaps?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved being able to inter-act with the contests and that, to keep you motivated.
5. How many books did you read? 9, but only a chapter each of 8 non-fiction ones.
6. What were the names of the books you read? Daughter of the Forest, The Lawmen, Getting the Word Right, How to Succeed at Being Yourself, Page after Page, Chapter by Chapter, The Breakout Novelist, Wallflowers Can Dance, and How to Write a YA Novel.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Daughter of the Forest–it was haunting.
8. Which did you enjoy least? Getting the Words Right–a necessary evil though as a tool to help with my writing.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very likely. Reader, perhaps cheerleader.

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I finished all 410 pages of Daughter. Now I’m going to have to quit for the night. May take this up in the morning if I awaken early enough.

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